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1 billion Android devices shipped in 2014, but not how Google intended

Last year was a landmark year for Android, as the number of devices shipping with the operating system exceeded 1 billion for the first time. The impressive figure, taken from research firm Strategy Analytics, means that Android's share of the smartphone market is now 81 percent. But while it is impressive, that's not how Google intended it.

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Quite a few Android devices shipped in 2014...1 billion to be exact / © ANDROIDPIT

This figure is considerably higher than the 15 percent share of the market held by Apple's iOS, and theoretically means that there are now enough Android phones in circulation to supply one in seven people in the world. But the figures also reveal that iOS market share reached 20 percent (74.5 million units) in Q4 2014 for the first time in Apple's history, putting it on par with market leader Samsung.

Apple's end-of-­year boom can be partly attributed to the release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in September, while Samsung didn't release a major flagship phone during that period. Nevertheless, Apple's market share improved more year­-on-­year than any other manufacturer.

Another caveat to Android's success is that the 1 billion units shipped include not only certified (OHA) versions of Android from major manufacturers, but also 'forked' or AOSP (Android Open Source Project) versions. These Android variants use Android's source code (which is free for anyone to customize), but replace Google's apps and services with their own ones, making it much harder for Google to profit from them.

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Android tops the smartphone tables / © Strategy Analytics

Forked versions of Android have been on the rise in emerging markets like India and China, where local manufacturers strip back Android's features to optimize it for budget devices. According to Strategy Analytics, around 37 percent of Android devices now ship with forked versions of the OS. 

The forked threat could grow further if Cyanogen makes good on its aim to “take Android away from Google”. The company behind the Android re-skin CyanogenMod could reportedly receive backing from Microsoft, and is looking to go fully forked and break away from Google's loosening grip on the Android ecosystem. 

Are you excited to see developers reworking Android to be less Google­-centric, or do you feel the OS is best left in the hands of the company that propelled it to becoming the world's most popular mobile platform?

7 comments

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  • Habit, fear of changes, stagnation, vanity and fashion enslave the Apple crowd. Apple sells hardware and software at very expensive prices.
    Google is an ethical, utilitarian Corporation birthing useful devices (and other activities). How many diseases had Apple mapped genetically?. Does Apple have a Solo driving car?
    Is Apple going into space as Google is?.How precise is the Apple GPS?......etc.,etc.
    Statistics is another way of manipulating the truth.
    Simply put Apple prices to the Google number of devices and your deception is clearly obvious. It is not all about money.

  • Andy W Feb 9, 2015 Link to comment

    All plastic all the time nexus 6 $929
    IPhone 6+ $1269

    Strangly not 3 times more expensive.

  • 8
    Yanwyn Feb 6, 2015 Link to comment

    Thanks for fixing your article Robert! I do believe it is inevitable that there will be, and should be, a pure Android (Google free) smartphone at some stage. Providing it's done right, unlike Nokia's half hearted effort, it would be quite a success. I'm sure there's a great many people who'd be interested! God bless Android!

  • Reg Joo Feb 5, 2015 Link to comment

    The google free android device, may never come(would be sweet thou), Most os's , have something that just"comes" with it. Every os made, has something that comes with it. Like a identity.

  • 8
    Yanwyn Feb 4, 2015 Link to comment

    Google did not create Android they bought it. Google are not your friend, they have been invading your privacy for quite some time now. And yes, I would like to see a Google free Android device! There has yet to be an actual Android phone, all we mostly have now are actually Google phones that use Android. Google fill the phones up with their apps, you have to join Google to really get full use of the phone, you can't put a review on Google Play unless you join Google+ which I refuse to do. Previously having an gmail account was enough but not anymore. You have to allow them access into your contacts so goodbye privacy of your friends and family! I suspect Google suffers with delusions of big brother. I use to like them but after learning more of them I distrust them. Android is an open source project, I think it would be better with a lot less Google!

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